Scar tissue forms around a muscle, tendon or ligament after it’s torn, in order to bind it together and prevent future injuries. Scar tissue often criss-crosses across the normal, healthy tissue, so although it helps the healing process, it can also reduce the flexibility of the area. Most people have experienced some kind of injury, such as a sprained ankle, where the injured area eventually heals but never feels quite the same again. This is because the scar tissue prevents the muscle from stretching as far, and in some cases, it can also reduce circulation to the area. When the muscles can’t get the amount of nutrients and oxygen needed, they tend to cramp or fall asleep easily, or they are just weaker than before.
Massage techniques are a powerful tool to improving your healing and getting rid of old scar tissues. Certain types of massage can be done by anyone, and can help break up old scar tissue and help healthy, normal tissues to form in their place. This improves your flexibility and circulation, and warms up the area. If you want to exercise but an old sprain or strain is holding you back, consider gently massaging the area just before your work-out and see if the area improves.
In many repetitive stress injuries, tissues are injured over and over, causing scar tissue to form and re-form, building up until the area is severely weakened and damaged. Again, massage or other physical therapy is needed to fully heal — to help break up and re-form old scar tissue to improve the flexibility of a joint.
Here are a couple massage techniques that are simple enough for anyone to do. They can be performed at home on yourself or a loved one. If the problem is more severe, a physical therapist or sports massage specialist may be the best ones to perform the treatments.
Soft tissue massage – Soft tissue massage is a light weight motion, over the muscle. It does not pin point the deep muscles, but only works on the tissues around muscles and superficial areas of the skin and all the things directly underneath. To perform a soft tissue massage, run your hands along someone’s muscles in the direction of the muscle or body part, and don’t press too hard. The goal is to loosen the tissues and muscles with light pressure, in order to improve circulation. It will also help the scar tissue to form in the direction of the muscle, so that it becomes more like the original muscle as possible. Soft tissue massage can warm up an area, helping nutrients to circulate and helping muscles to heal properly.
Retrograde Massage — “retrograde” just means that the massage is performed toward the person’s heart. If you’re massaging someone’s arm, rub in the direction of the shoulder along the grain of the muscle. On the lower back or legs, rub upwards, toward the heart. Retrograde massage helps blood and lymph circulate properly, so the body can bring nutrients to the muscles and remove toxins from the body. It also helps scar tissue break up, and form properly, improving your flexibility and strength.
A word of caution:Massage is good to perform on an injury that has already made it through the basic acute healing process — if it hurts or is too painful, decrease pressure, or wait until the pain subsides to begin the massage. For any acute injury such as a sprain or strain, you should see a doctor right away to diagnose the injury and get on the road to recovery.
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